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Detroit, MI - Jewish/Arab Woman Strip Searched After Flight On 9/11 Sues Airline

Published on: January 23, 2013 12:30 PM
By: AP
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FILE - This Sept. 13, 2011 file photo provided by Shoshana Hebshi shows the Sylvania, Ohio, woman who says she was strip-searched after being led in handcuffs from a Frontier Airlines flight from Denver to Detroit on Sept. 11, 2011. Hebshi said she is of mixed Arab-Jewish heritage and was searched solely because of her appearance. She filed a discrimination suit on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, in U.S. District Court in Detroit against the U.S. Transportation Security Administration and Frontier Airlines. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Shoshana Hebshi)  Read more: http://www.vcstar.com/news/2013/jan/22/ohio-flier-sues-after-a-search-on-911/#ixzz2Iot7vxrU  - vcstar.com FILE - This Sept. 13, 2011 file photo provided by Shoshana Hebshi shows the Sylvania, Ohio, woman who says she was strip-searched after being led in handcuffs from a Frontier Airlines flight from Denver to Detroit on Sept. 11, 2011. Hebshi said she is of mixed Arab-Jewish heritage and was searched solely because of her appearance. She filed a discrimination suit on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, in U.S. District Court in Detroit against the U.S. Transportation Security Administration and Frontier Airlines. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Shoshana Hebshi)  Read more: http://www.vcstar.com/news/2013/jan/22/ohio-flier-sues-after-a-search-on-911/#ixzz2Iot7vxrU - vcstar.com

Detroit, MI - A woman who says she was ethnically targeted for a strip search at Detroit Metropolitan Airport filed a lawsuit Tuesday against an airline and federal transportation officials.

Authorities removed Shoshana Hebshi from a Frontier Airlines plane after it landed in Detroit on Sept. 11, 2011, the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. The crew had reported suspicious behavior by two Indian-American men sitting near her, saying they spent a lot of time in a bathroom.

Hebshi, who describes herself as half-Arab and half-Jewish, said she and the men had never met before the flight and had nothing in common beyond a similar skin tone.

After removing her from the plane and handcuffing her, agents ordered Hebshi to remove her clothes, bend over and cough while being searched, she said in a complaint filed in Detroit federal court.

The freelance writer from Sylvania, Ohio, said she is concerned about what she believes was ethnic profiling based on her dark complexion and what that pattern of treatment might mean for her 7-year-old twins.

“I was frightened and humiliated,” Hebshi told the Detroit Free Press. “As an American citizen and a mom, I’m really concerned about my children growing up in a country where your skin color and your name can put your freedom and liberty at risk at any time.”

Hebshi said the U.S. has a “history of profiling and oppressing people who look different.” She added that authorities assume “someone who is brown is a criminal.”

Frontier and the Transportation Security Administration declined comment on the suit Tuesday.

Hebshi said no one ever told her why she was being targeted and what was happening.

“They wouldn’t even tell me what was going on,” she said Tuesday. “No would answer me.”

The American Civil Liberties Union is assisting Hebshi in her lawsuit. ACLU lawyer Michael Steinberg said Hebshi “did nothing that was suspicious” to warrant such treatment.


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Read Comments (25)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jan 23, 2013 at 12:41 PM A SHANDA! Says:

I remember when this incident occurred. Wheras the behavior of the two Indian-Americans may have appeared to have raised red flags, the dumb airline picked on this poor woman, since she was seated near those Indian-Americans. If she had been an attractive blonde, blue eyed woman, they never would have bothered her. There have been other instances where frum Jews who were either davening too loudly, putting on Tefillen in the plane, etc., have been detained, and harassed by flight crews, and by authorities on the ground. I haven't flown on commercial airliners in over three years, and quite frankly I don't miss it!! Years ago, it was fun to fly. Today, it is worse than the subway!!!

2

 Jan 23, 2013 at 12:51 PM Geulah Says:

Hebshi said the U.S. has a “history of profiling and oppressing people who look different.” She added that authorities assume “someone who is brown is a criminal.” Offensive and deliberately obfuscating. What trash. We don't profile. The history of the US has more to do with prejudicial judgements than it has with profiling. Can't substitute profiling with prejudice.

3

 Jan 23, 2013 at 12:54 PM berelw Says:

thats the reality today...what she be happy if there was a attack and the authorities were afraid to investigate based on being politically correct. if they would strip search mean i wouldnt mind as i know they are doing their job. so i say to shoshana grow up!

4

 Jan 23, 2013 at 01:15 PM DRE53 Says:

Instead of her thanking the TSA for protecting us, she tries to fight them.
Their doing their job which is to assure that anything possibly suspicious gets checked out.
If they believed (no matter how they came to that conclusion) that she was somehow related to the other men, it was their DUTY to search her.

5

 Jan 23, 2013 at 01:17 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
A SHANDA! Says:

I remember when this incident occurred. Wheras the behavior of the two Indian-Americans may have appeared to have raised red flags, the dumb airline picked on this poor woman, since she was seated near those Indian-Americans. If she had been an attractive blonde, blue eyed woman, they never would have bothered her. There have been other instances where frum Jews who were either davening too loudly, putting on Tefillen in the plane, etc., have been detained, and harassed by flight crews, and by authorities on the ground. I haven't flown on commercial airliners in over three years, and quite frankly I don't miss it!! Years ago, it was fun to fly. Today, it is worse than the subway!!!

People putting on teffilin, davening loudly or otherwise not following airline safety rules (like when to sit)- IS WRONG, suspicious and a huge red flag!
What if you saw someone from another religion/ethnicity wrapping themselves in a huge cloth, putting weird wires and straps on their arm and head, rocking back and forth, mumbling in a language we can't understand.... ????

6

 Jan 23, 2013 at 01:18 PM The_Truth Says:

A self proclaimed half arab, half jew is suspicious enough to me.

7

 Jan 23, 2013 at 01:45 PM Get Real! Says:

To #3- Hey, Beryl, it is easy for you to state that "you wouldn't mind being strip searched". However, I guarantee you that it is a most unpleasant experience. This young woman was not only strip searched, but was thrown in a cell for hours and detained, for not doing anything illegal! This is America, and not North Korea, where we would expect such behavior!

To: #2- Geulah- I don't know if you were being sarcastic, or were trying to make a point. There is really no difference between detaining someone who looks different, for prejudicial reasons, or for profiling reasons. Whereas the official policy of the U.S. Government is not to profile, the fact of the matter is that it is done everyday at U.S. Airports, and at U.S. piers, on an unofficial basis.

8

 Jan 23, 2013 at 01:54 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
A SHANDA! Says:

I remember when this incident occurred. Wheras the behavior of the two Indian-Americans may have appeared to have raised red flags, the dumb airline picked on this poor woman, since she was seated near those Indian-Americans. If she had been an attractive blonde, blue eyed woman, they never would have bothered her. There have been other instances where frum Jews who were either davening too loudly, putting on Tefillen in the plane, etc., have been detained, and harassed by flight crews, and by authorities on the ground. I haven't flown on commercial airliners in over three years, and quite frankly I don't miss it!! Years ago, it was fun to fly. Today, it is worse than the subway!!!

This all thanks to muslim terrorism, they brough this SHNADA to the world and these are some of the many consequences in order not to have a 9/11 repeat.

Unfortunately for her, she was singled out and deserves some kind of compensation for her troubles but the SHANDA goes to the root of the problem, terrorism.

9

 Jan 23, 2013 at 01:58 PM anon1m0us Says:

I persoanlly agree with Profiling, however, the issue here is that she was stripped searched. That is crossing a line. Question her, look through her stuff, but to strip search is a little too far.

10

 Jan 23, 2013 at 01:58 PM Anonymous Says:

I can tell you 1 thing, that I am an Orthodox Jewish guy, when I fly they do ask to remove my hat and kepah and even once they ask me to open up my Tfilin, I always comply and thankful That they do their job and keeping us safe bezh's.

In this case, she was handcuffed. I wonder why,

12

 Jan 23, 2013 at 02:22 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #6  
The_Truth Says:

A self proclaimed half arab, half jew is suspicious enough to me.

and anyone who posts under the name of "the truth" only denies the reality of his namesake with such naresh comments.....perhaps you are half intelligent and half self-proclaimed racist

13

 Jan 23, 2013 at 02:39 PM Brooklynhocker Says:

The TSA and Airline will say that they assumed she is Jewish and was therefore not profiled as a Muslim they were acting on a suspicion from the flight crew. She has less of a case after the flight because only they (the flight crew) can say whether or not she was acting suspicious. If she had been barred from the plane prior to the flight then she could claim they profiled her because of her name. "Shoshana" be happy your parents made you a US Citizen, otherwise who knows how you might have been treated in a different country.

14

 Jan 23, 2013 at 03:33 PM ShmuelG Says:

Reply to #1  
A SHANDA! Says:

I remember when this incident occurred. Wheras the behavior of the two Indian-Americans may have appeared to have raised red flags, the dumb airline picked on this poor woman, since she was seated near those Indian-Americans. If she had been an attractive blonde, blue eyed woman, they never would have bothered her. There have been other instances where frum Jews who were either davening too loudly, putting on Tefillen in the plane, etc., have been detained, and harassed by flight crews, and by authorities on the ground. I haven't flown on commercial airliners in over three years, and quite frankly I don't miss it!! Years ago, it was fun to fly. Today, it is worse than the subway!!!

"There have been other instances where frum Jews who were either davening too loudly, putting on Tefillen in the plane, etc."

Nonsense! Total nonsense. This may have happen once or twice. But dovening and putting tfillin on the plane are routine activities, occurring thousands of times every day, including in groups even when there is no minyan.. (I myself frequently contribute to that number.) And to bring it up in support of your twisted premise that airlines or security men are racists is an outright lie.

I travel frequently and the worst thing that ever happened to me was that 3 years ago an inexperienced TSA man in Baltimore asked me what tfillin were and if they could be inspected. I politely but firmly replied that he could look at them but only I can take them out of plastic covers, he is not to touch them. And the leather boxes can absolutely not be opened. He agreed to my terms, took a look at them while in my hands and that was the extent of it. At all the other nearly hundred flights that I took since 9/11, nothing even this benign ever happened. And I know plenty of other Jewish travelers. So I have an ample experience to accuse you of lying.

15

 Jan 23, 2013 at 04:35 PM The-Logician Says:

This is so ABSURD. This took place ON September 11th (!) for goodness sake! It was during an active attack against America. IT WAS WAR.

Of course the security would be very jumpy. If this flies in court... then our system is nuts.

16

 Jan 23, 2013 at 05:15 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
DRE53 Says:

Instead of her thanking the TSA for protecting us, she tries to fight them.
Their doing their job which is to assure that anything possibly suspicious gets checked out.
If they believed (no matter how they came to that conclusion) that she was somehow related to the other men, it was their DUTY to search her.

Would you thank the TSA if you went through what she did or is it only ok when it happens to someone else!
Pratcice what you preach, or better yet, put your money where your mouth is!

17

 Jan 23, 2013 at 05:24 PM There You Go Again Says:

To: #14- Again, you've insulted someone with your post, calling him "a liar", and trying to justify the despicable conduct of some airline employees and security personnel. The fact of the matter is that the TSA is comprised of many individuals who have police (criminal) records. For whatever reason, the government feels comfortable in employing those miscreants. They are not keeping us safe; many of them have been caught stealing passenger's possessions! There is a high turnover among them. Have you ever noticed why you rarely see the same TSA agents twice? That poor woman did not deserve to be thrown off the plane, handcuffed, detained, thrown in a cell and strip searched. Now, Frontier Airlines, and its cohorts will have to cough up plenty of gelt! To all of the other posters-Try having the government strip search you for no reason, and then try to justify it with comments "Well they are just doing their job, trying to keep us safe". PLEASE!!!

18

 Jan 23, 2013 at 06:36 PM The-Literate-Logician Says:

Reply to #15  
The-Logician Says:

This is so ABSURD. This took place ON September 11th (!) for goodness sake! It was during an active attack against America. IT WAS WAR.

Of course the security would be very jumpy. If this flies in court... then our system is nuts.

Please READ the article. Happened on September 11, 2011.

19

 Jan 23, 2013 at 06:57 PM TonyDavis Says:

She wasn't treated any differently than other Arabs or brown skinned people are treated. Somehow, it's okay to assume Indian men are terrorists, and question THEM, and strip search them (not sure if they were strip searched, but I doubt many people would complain if they were). But suddenly, b/c she says she's Jewish, they aren't allowed to question her? Bull! Middle eastern is middle eastern...

20

 Jan 23, 2013 at 07:05 PM Robert Says:

Reply to #3  
berelw Says:

thats the reality today...what she be happy if there was a attack and the authorities were afraid to investigate based on being politically correct. if they would strip search mean i wouldnt mind as i know they are doing their job. so i say to shoshana grow up!

you obviously have never been strip searched
nor have any clue on what that involves

21

 Jan 23, 2013 at 07:07 PM Robert Says:

Reply to #4  
DRE53 Says:

Instead of her thanking the TSA for protecting us, she tries to fight them.
Their doing their job which is to assure that anything possibly suspicious gets checked out.
If they believed (no matter how they came to that conclusion) that she was somehow related to the other men, it was their DUTY to search her.

same comments as i made to number 3
just wait how feel about their duty when you get strip searched

22

 Jan 23, 2013 at 09:49 PM Renegade Says:

I'm not against the idea of profiling to catch terrorists, but it sounds like this was more of a case of "let's find a dark-skinned young woman sitting near these suspicious guys and strip her."

23

 Jan 23, 2013 at 09:59 PM Farshloofine Friedman Says:

She was either leaving or arriving in Detroitistan, the Arab capitol of America. That's reason enough to strip search her. Besides, they may have thought that she was smuggling WMD in that nose of hers!

24

 Jan 24, 2013 at 12:24 AM si girl Says:

Reply to #20  
Robert Says:

you obviously have never been strip searched
nor have any clue on what that involves

Yes, its unpleasant. This is a reality of today. Yes, sometimes TSA is stupid. That's another reality of life. I still think its better to be safe than sorry. Did not you see stupid people in all places where some kind of service is done.?

25

 Jan 24, 2013 at 11:47 AM awacs Says:

The real problem, as I see it, is that she was detained/searched AFTER she left the plane.

If TSA's whole mission is to keep flying safe, and nothing happened, what excuse do they have for molesting her? She wasn't flying then.

26

 Jan 24, 2013 at 07:18 PM ShmuelG Says:

Reply to #17  
There You Go Again Says:

To: #14- Again, you've insulted someone with your post, calling him "a liar", and trying to justify the despicable conduct of some airline employees and security personnel. The fact of the matter is that the TSA is comprised of many individuals who have police (criminal) records. For whatever reason, the government feels comfortable in employing those miscreants. They are not keeping us safe; many of them have been caught stealing passenger's possessions! There is a high turnover among them. Have you ever noticed why you rarely see the same TSA agents twice? That poor woman did not deserve to be thrown off the plane, handcuffed, detained, thrown in a cell and strip searched. Now, Frontier Airlines, and its cohorts will have to cough up plenty of gelt! To all of the other posters-Try having the government strip search you for no reason, and then try to justify it with comments "Well they are just doing their job, trying to keep us safe". PLEASE!!!

He said ""There have been other instances where frum Jews who were either davening too loudly, putting on Tefillen in the plane, etc." I merely pointed out that even if there were one or two such occasions, considering how routinely dovening, with and without tfillin, takes place on planes, literally thousands of times every day, and nobody reports any problems, using that to back up his contention that airlines and TSA use profiling is an outright lie. I stand by my word.

27

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